Riding in Malaysia
Riding in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, had always been on the top 10 biking must do's for me ever since I heard about it from friends. Last Oct when I got the opportunity to fly there again, I got to score that item of the list, and how.
My friends at WTR are to be thanked for what was probably my best time ever straddled on a saddle.
Let me get straight to the introductions. The rides were Italian, both of 'em. The Aprilia Dorsodura 750 supermotard and the legendary MV Agusta F4 MY10, yes that's right, the MVF4. For the enthusiast, this bike has the same radial valves seen in the Formula 1 Ferrari cars (92 -93). Is among the few European superbikes that have a four inline, creating that awesome hum.
The excitement of having these Italian girls all to myself for the next 3 days was such, that I lost motor control of my lower jaw. Wide open in awe and disbelief over how amazing these bikes looked when you saw them up close. The MVF4 especially, is really a piece of art. True to its Italian origins.
They were mine, and I got to choose where to ride them for the day. I chose to ride up to Genting Highlands, famous for the wide twisting roads that climbed up to an altitude of 5900ft.
Ride and route
The route was planned, we ride from KL to Lord Murugan's temple at Batu Caves via the wide and well paced federal highway and then after a small prayer and some pics head out to the famous twisting roads up Genting highlands. A lunch up in the cool hill station to rejuice the batteries before we head back into KL city and meet some other bikers at those famous street eat outs. The circuit would be roughly around 120kms including the little detour to include Batu Caves and should take half a day with all the stops and food breaks.
We started at 8am from KL, kitted and geared for the day, I chose to start with the Dorso, while my brother hopped on eagerly atop the F4. Our pilot for the day, was trusty Rush from WTR, who'd make sure we didn't get lost or more importantly stick to the speed rules and discipline. Its easy to get tempted on these bikes, believe me.
The twin cylinders on the Dorsoduro sparked up with a roar. The distinct scream generated by the Vtwin, through its high tail light hugging exhausts has a raw pleasure about them. The electronics on board let you set the bike up for three different ride modes. Sport, Rain and Tour. These are essentially three different ECU maps. Very handy when you are in a country like Malaysia where the weather gods push sun and rain buttons like they were on a pinball machine. The modes can be changed on the fly and let you remap without affecting ones riding flow.
We were all set and got on to the federal highway and quickly formed up and got to a good cruise speed. This stretch let me familiarise myself with the aggressive up-right riding position. It reminded me of my motocross sundays on my Yamaha RX back home, only this one was some 6 times bigger and felt like a box of crackers. If you want to read more about the bike, jump to my other post that focusses on this bike.
We got to Batu caves in about 30mins and at the parking, were immediately surrounded by fans, not of me of course, but the gorgeous Italian hotties. I moved back a couple of steps and let the shutter bugs click away.
Batu Caves is a limestone hill, which has a series of caves and cave temples, in the Gombak district, 13 kilometres (8 mi) north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It takes its name from the Sungai Batu or Batu River, which flows past the hill. Batu Caves is also the name of the nearby village.
The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, dedicated to Lord Murugan, incidentally our family deity too. It is the focal point of Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia.
After a prayer to Lord Murugan, We headed out to ride towards Genting. The ride from here on was a lot more fun, I think the break helped me re-calibrate myself to the Dorso and somehow this time put me in-charge. Changing the modes are great fun, I enjoyed switching between the sport and tour modes. The gentle acceleration of the tour mode through the city stretches to the aggressive sport mode when you can make that change. The versatile nature of the Dorso is quite enjoyable.
Malaysia has a great road network that is very well suited to motorcycling. With almost every little point on the map connected, you can be sure to have a great road wherever you plan to take your riding. The changing landscape adds to the joy for touring. Cruising along lets you see a lot of this wonderful country in the way it is meant to be seen. The culture is very rich here too, the main ethnicities here being Malay, Chinese and Tamil, you get a fantastic mix of food, language and everything else in between.
We hit the Genting foothills and immediately, it became a lot more exciting. The landscape got thicker and greener, with a winding dark black tarmac snake cutting through it. The roaring Dorso and the MV were singing all out and filling the valley up with music (for the moto-enthusiast that is). There are a couple of great photo ops on this route and we stopped to take some good shots of the bikes here. Some of them I have posted with this article. The bikes easily catch attention of other bikers we met some who decided to pull-over to chat. The wonderful thing about these trips is you always meet other bikers and make new friends. Catching up on what's the scene there like and all the local bike talk.
We got up to Genting by noon, with an ear to ear grin. The ride up was absolute fun on these bikes, the long banking corners and the straights that were just long enough to enjoy the power on these bikes was a perfect match. We deserved a good hearty lunch to celebrate.
Up on top, there are a lot of options for gastronomic touring for foodies like us. We decided to try something local. Rush suggested a quiet resto that seemed to be pretty popular with the locales there. We tried some local delicacies and a lot of ice-lemon to wash them all down.
After our lunch, we were quite eager to get back on to the bikes. So going down, we swapped bikes. I would get to ride the MV and figure out why my brother was having, apparently, so much more fun that he was boasting about over lunch. And I have to say, the MV is a dream. Its every bit of the legend it claims to be.
The MVF4 is such a well balanced bike that it almost reads your mind before you take that cornering decision. The ride position was not a taxing as I thought it would be compared to other popular bikes in its class.
Riding the twists were a complete dream on this bike, I felt in complete control as the four cylinders effortlessly powered away and the large discs grabbed every bit of the traction to create a wonderful riding experience. As we came down to lower altitudes and the roads got straight and the engine was now well heated up and had reached its optimum performance temperature.
Earlier, before we started, Rush had promised to flag for me the stretch where I could open up the MV safely and get a feel for its full power. As we got to this point, I got the signal from our pilot. I looked ahead and it was a straight line, was easily a km plus. I tucked in and powered through the gears. The acceleration was real quick, hitting 200+ kmph in no time. There was no fuss at all, the MV cut through the thick tropical air like a knife and was quite hungry for more. I looked ahead and saw a gentle left hander coming up, and cut the acceleration. The MV hummed back seamlessly delivering confidence inspiring control as I entered the corner at around 150 kmph. I just loved it, the power, the balance, the control.
The rest of the ride was just absolute fun. We got back to KL and quickly settled back into lower cruise speeds to suit the traffic. The ride was a good mix of terrain and pace and really did feel quite fulfilling though it was just 120kms. As we rode through the city, I was excited about the next 2 days we still had to enjoy the bikes.
Now back, the bikes turned a lot of heads as we entered the tight busy streets of KL. We were on our way to meet up with some friends from the local biking circuit and discuss you know what. Bikes.